Objective: Metformin is widely used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Growing evidence supports the beneficial effects of metformin also in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It was recently reported that metformin has a TSH-lowering effect in hypothyroid patients with diabetes being treated with metformin.
Design: Aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of metformin treatment on the thyroid hormone profile in patients with PCOS.
Patients and measurements: Thirty-three patients with PCOS were specifically selected for being either treated with levothyroxine for a previous diagnosis of hypothyroidism (n = 7), untreated subclinically hypothyroid (n = 2) or euthyroid without levothyroxine treatment (n = 24) before the starting of metformin. The serum levels of TSH and FT(4) were measured before and after a 4-month period of metformin therapy.
Results: Thyroid function parameters did not change after starting metformin therapy in euthyroid patients with PCOS. In the 9 hypothyroid patients with PCOS, the basal median serum levels of TSH (3·2 mIU/l, range = 0·4-7·1 mIU/l) significantly (P < 0·05) decreased after a 4-month course of metformin treatment (1·7 mIU/l, range = 0·5-5·2 mIU/l). No significant change in the serum levels of FT4 was observed in these patients. The TSH-lowering effect of metformin was not related to the administered dose of the drug, which was similar in euthyroid as compared with hypothyroid patients with PCOS (1406 ± 589 vs 1322 ± 402 mg/day, respectively; NS).
Conclusions: These results indicate that metformin treatment has a TSH-lowering effect in hypothyroid patients with PCOS, both treated with l-thyroxine and untreated.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.